Turns out Neil Gaiman–a name I’d heard before but written off as belonging to a scraggly nerd whose nerd-dom fell outside of my own–IS AWESOME. (Duh, say a million people. Sorry, late to the party again, etc. etc.) Here’s part of a 2013 lecture he gave titled Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming:
On literacy & crime
The prison industry needs to plan its future growth…How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily…based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn’t read…
On fiction & empathy
Fiction…build[s] empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people…You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed. Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.
On libraries & freedom
Libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information…It’s a community space. It’s a place of safety, a haven from the world…Libraries really are the gates to the future…If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.
I mean, just read the whole thing. SWOON.